My Literary Confessions

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  • My favourite first lines are not ones that you’ll find on top ten lists:

“When a day that you happen to know is a Wednesday starts off by sounding like a Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.” – John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids

“It was a dazzling four-sun afternoon.” – Issac Asmiov and Robert Silverberg, Nightfall

“In defense of Althalus, it should be noted that he was in very tight financial circumstances and more than a little tipsy when he agreed to undertake the theft of the Book.” – David and Leigh Eddings, The Redemption of Althalus Continue reading

Self-Editing Tricks to Tuck up Your Sleeve

Whether you’re writing a short story, blog post, poem or working on a novel, at some point you’re going to have to look back over your own words. This comes at different stages in the process for many of us, but we all have to do it eventually. And its a buggering nightmare, most of the time. Mainly because deep down you know you’re never going to catch it all. There’ll be the odd spelling error, a mistyped phrase, an unnecessary adverb or heaven forbid – a misused semi colon.

To be honest, I’ve been caught out so many times now I tend to laugh it off. Discovering all these things and more days or even weeks after some of my work has gone live is always rather  embarrassing. Fortunately, I’ve only ever found myself in the most gentile company of fellow readers and writers, and most of them are very forgiving about obvious mistakes.

But when it comes to my more serious ventures – the ones I intend to make money from, I do everything I can to make sure the text is as polished as possible. And while line and copy editors are a service I think all writers should take advantage of, it never hurts to do as much as you can before handing it off. So here are a few tips and tricks I use to help me weed out even the most easily overlooked mistakes in my prose. Continue reading

Hidden Below

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In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge over on the Daily Post, here’s a piece by photographer Andrew Brooks.

It’s a part of his ‘Hidden Cities’ collection, and was taken during an exploration of Manchester.

I have a lot of his worked saved and hidden away, because it has often served to inspire and save me from more than one bought of writer’s block.

The reason I love this particular picture so much is because I found it when trying to research locations for Underground, back when it was still a short that took place almost entirely inside a series of abandoned tunnels.

Whenever I’m having trouble writing that story, taking a look at Brooks’ work often helps me get back on track.

Be sure to click-through for the full-sized image and check out the rest of his site too!

Camp Nano: Mid-month Madness

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The storyverse my novel takes place in started out as a world building exercise last year. I wanted to create an interesting system with a few habitable planets, an asteroid belt with a couple of space stations and a big old ship that housed the entire government, which traveled from one orbit to another. Continue reading

What Came Before

The Ideal Bookshelf, Based on an original painting by Jane Mount.

The Ideal Bookshelf, based on an original painting by Jane Mount.

For the last month or so I’ve been helping out a friend with a sci-fi story he’s been working on, but never really done much with. I’d heard him talk about it multiple times, saying he had all his characters and a complete outline. But although he was more than happy to talk about it – he seemed a little hesitant whenever I prodded him to actually write it. Continue reading

Ten Years in the Making

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As any well weathered traveler will tell you, it’s usually best to abide by the rules of the places you find yourself in. But when the first rule is that no one living should be there, abandoning all hope may be the least of your concerns.

When eleven year old Millie finds herself stepping through the dark and onto a strange-looking train, there’s not an awful lot she can do. Without her parents and the comfort of familiar surroundings, Millie is left to ask strangers for help. But the other passengers are silent and sorrowful, looking anywhere but at her – and they won’t tell her the name of the next stop…

It’s hard to believe really, but this novel (my first, completed, honest to god finished novel) has taken me over a decade to write. It started life as short story in my first semester at university and by the end of the term I was pretty damn sure the bloody thing was cursed. Continue reading

The Robots are Coming

I hope we can all get along... (Get Lost You Stinking Robot by melora)

I hope we can all get along… (Get Lost You Stinking Robot by melora)

Just over a month ago, a hostess named ChihiraAico was working in a department store in Tokyo. She made a very capable worker, dressed in a traditional kimono and politely providing information and directions to customers, able to communicate in Japanese, Korean, English and even Japanese sign language. But the most remarkable thing about her was that unlike all the other assistants in the store, she wasn’t human. She was a robot. Continue reading